MIAMI — Louis Nix III is the talker. Stephon Tuitt is the thinker.
Put them together, and you’ve got the start of quite a stout defensive line for top-ranked Notre Dame.
Personality-wise, there would seem to be little that links the loquacious Nix and the church-quiet Tuitt. Yet both on and off the field, they find ways to click in just about every way imaginable – and they’re generally considered the two most productive defensive linemen on an Irish team that plays No. 2 Alabama on Monday night in the BCS title game.
“Guys want to talk, I like to talk,” Nix said Saturday. “Tuitt, he just hits people. I think that’s the talking he does.”
For the Irish, it works.
Nix, a nose guard, leads the line with 45 tackles despite regularly seeing double-teams, at minimum – and he was chosen as the team’s defensive lineman of the year. Tuitt had a breakout season, 42 tackles and a team-best 12 sacks from his defensive end spot, along with a fumble return for a score in the season-opening win over Navy.
That seems so long ago. The Irish were unranked then, and now are not only No. 1 in the land, but one win away from a most unlikely national title.
“It’s exciting. I’m glad to be here,” Tuitt said. “It’s something we’ve worked for all year. We made it.”
So much about their personalities was made clear on Saturday when the Irish arrived at Sun Life Stadium for the BCS media day festivities.
Tuitt took a spot inside a tent. Nix, on the other hand, stood outside the tent, surrounded by a half-dozen television cameras.
Sitting nearby, Tuitt could hear his affable teammate, and just grinned.
“I’m just the person who’s just here,” Tuitt said. “I don’t really do that much talking.”
Between Heisman finalist Manti Te’o, Nix and Tuitt, Notre Dame’s offense gets to regularly go up against three of the toughest challenges in the nation in practice.
That’s one of the reasons the Irish made it to Miami.
“Going against guys like Manti and Tuitt and Louis and those guys, you have to be on your assignments,” offensive lineman Zack Martin said. “You have to be on your technique or you’re going to get beat.”